We walked up and down the street three times, and after realising we were lost, asked a passer-by where the Gaziantep Mevlevi Lodge Foundation Museum was. Located in the Sahinbey area of the city, it is one of many museums in Gaziantep but we simply could not find it.
The passer-by smirked and pointed behind us. We were in the right place all the time but guide books had neglected to mention the entrance is via a courtyard off the Tekke mosque complex.
The Gaziantep Mevlevi Museum showcases the life of a whirling dervish in past centuries through displays of musical instruments, books, Islamic art and themed rooms. I had wanted to see it because I had developed a strong interest in them a few years back.
If you are not aware, whirling dervishes belongs to the Mevlevi order which was founded by the great poet Rumi. They follow the Sufi dimension of Islam but are better known for the whirling dances which are meant to elevate them to peace of mind and a calm relaxed state. Called the Sama, the whirling dance is considered a spiritual journey to achieving perfection.
The old whirling dervish lodge was interesting but provided no extra enlightenment or knowledge than the lodge of Galata in Istanbul. There were some ancient books and art that had to be admired simply because of their age but there was nothing new to learn. Could it be that my obsession with the dervishes is now well and truly finished?
Architecture of the Gaziantep Mevlevi Lodge Foundation Museum
The displays did not interest me but the architecture of the house did. The building in which the museum is located dates back four centuries. It was renovated in 2006, while adhering to traditional Gaziantep architecture as much as possible.
In the past, houses were built on two levels. The upper storey was reached via a stone staircase and it typically consisted of rows of small arched windows or wooden balconies. An arched gate led into the main courtyard with cool shaded areas and in summer, the family would spend a lot of time there.
Despite suffering from major fires in 1901 and 1903, the stone building of the museum has weathered the elements and after a 600,000 lira (215,000 UK pounds or 330,000 USD) renovation, it is now a proud example of the effort that the city is making to encourage tourism to the region.
Address : Gaziantep Mevlevihanesi Vakif Müzesi, Boyaci Mahallesi, Tekke Camii Yani, Sahinbey
Telephone number : (0342) 232 97 97